According to analysts at ThinkAnton (ThinkPanmure
), AT&T and other international incumbents plan on launching a global Skype
"We believe that AT&T, in conjunction with perhaps 10-15 other incumbent operators such as British Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, and NTT, is preparing to launch, in 2009, a competitor of sorts to Skype. We believe that the motivation to do this would be to keep subscribers from completely disappearing, reducing win-back marketing costs."
Their key points the analysts stress is how "incumbent telephone operators have been losing wired access lines for a few years, to a variety of destinations: cellular, cable TV operators, competitive wireline carriers and, in a sense, also to IP telephony operators such as Skype."
They claim that the incumbent operators have been able to make up for these losses by entering new businesses such as cellular, DSL/fiber, and television.
Here's the rest of the analyst report "teaser":
However, the loss of the long-time telephone number often means that the incumbent phone operator loses the relationship with the customer entirely. Why? Because the consumer can buy access for his VoIP service such as Skype from another source, such as cable modem, 3G cellular, WiMax, or a competitive DSL/fiber carrier.